8 Sonic The Hedgehog Cartoons That Are Probably Better Than The Movie
by Lynzee Loveridge,
So your CG Sonic film design went "boom" and now you're this week's internet laughingstock? I don't have any advice for the crew on the Sonic the Hedgehog movie and its soon to be overworked staff. We'll all have to wait to see what kind of design overhaul the titular blue hedgehog gets before December, but almost anything would be better than the toothy Whoville reject we got in the trailer.
Paramount Pictures is hardly the first American company to adapt Sega's video game star for the screen. Sonic has found himself in American cartoons, animated video game openings, and anime over his nearly 30 year career. His design has adapted from a pixelated ball of energy to the taller, lankier version in Sonic Adventure. This week I'll give a brief rundown on Sonic's animated history from DiC to Toei.
Let's get this game started!
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
DiC's 65-episode series was part Saturday morning cartoon and part PSA. The series starred Sonic as a chili-dog eating, sassy protagonist followed closely by his starry-eyed pal Tails. This Sonic was quick with a catchphrase ("I'm waiiiiting!") and usually outmaneuvered and outsmarted Robotnik and his goofy minions; a robotic chicken named Scratch and the drill-nosed Grounder. Sonic himself was voiced by comedian Jaleel White (of Steve Urkel fame). There's no overall plot arc; each episode is self-contained. The Sonic Says segments covered everything from basic life skills (memorize your phone number) to how to spot false advertising.
Sonic the Hedgehog
This was DiC's second Sonic cartoon, this time taking cues from the Archie Comics to produce a series that was darker when compared to Adventures. This time Sonic isn't a solo hero but part of a larger group of freedom fighters attempting to overthrow Robotnik and retake Mobius. In this continuity, Robotnik's real name is...Julian and his primary focus is banishing poor animal people to alternate dimensions or turning them into robots. The series ran for two seasons and has a continuing story arc revolving around the Freedom Fighters' attempts to gain a foothold over Robotnik. The final season ended with a set-up for more but a sequel never surfaced. I remember liking the series, namely Sally Acorn, during the show's run on USA Network's USA Action Extreme Team block (it included Adventures, Sailor Moon, AND Gargoyles) but reviews in the last decade don't agree with me.
Someone kidnapped the president's daughter and only SONIC THE HEDGEHOG can save her sure is a plot. I wish this was just a political thriller starring Sonic but the staff also throw in an alternate Eggman universe to boot. This might be the only Sonic media to make mention of "Eggmanland" but what this extremely convoluted plot of kidnapping, alternate Eggmans, and planet-destroying generators really leads to is the introduction of Knuckles in a cowboy hat and horny Sonic. See, our hero has very little interest in thwarting any of Eggman's devious plots until the president's catgirl daughter gives him a wink. That's enough motivation to get the action rolling, jumping, and Hyper Metal Sonic smashing.
Sonic CD Opening
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie wasn't the first appearance of Hyper Metal Sonic. The robo version of the fast-talking hero first appeared in the Sega CD console's Sonic CD game in 1993. The game also was players' first introduction to Sonic's hammer-wielding self-proclaimed girlfriend Amy Rose. The game is notable on The List for including animated cut sequences by Toei Animation. The opening is nice; full of cool details like the rainbow spray from Sonic dashing through water.
Sonic X is the first full-on Sonic television anime featuring the original characters and the newly introduced crew from the Dreamcast games. The anime doesn't take place on Mobius like the previous series. Instead, Sonic and his friends (and enemies) end up in the human world. The plot follows many of the same beats as the game: Sonic's crew and his new human pal Chris must obtain Chaos Emeralds to stop Chaos and save the world. Eventually the series moves past the Sonic Adventure plot to include travels into outer space, alien robots, and plant people. The series has had a rather mixed history in the U.S. where it was localized by 4Kids (and subsequently panned for the changes). Regardless, the show was popular when it aired in both the U.S. and France, reaching #1 for its respective timeslot.
DiC was not ready to give up on Sonic and in 1999 the company helped produce the high concept of "Sonic but in a rock band." This iteration is not connected to any previous Sonic media and is the only version I know of where Sonic has siblings. His sister, sporting the "inspired" name choice of Sonia, and a brother named Manic. The three siblings are apparent heirs to the throne of Mobius but remain separated from their Queen mother as Robotnik has taken hold of the planet. The trio try to locate their mom while wielding music weapons bestowed on them by an oracle. Sonic fights with an electric guitar that doubles as a laser gun. Actually, all the instruments double as laser guns. Everyone gets a friggin' laser gun.
The Sonic Unleashed video game added a new power to Sonic's repertoire; the Werehog. "Were-" stands in for "hedge-" here; Sonic is not transforming into an angry pig but a werewolf...hog. Sonic's new power is the result of coming into contact with "Dark Gaia" energy. Sonic: Night of the Werehog is a 3D-animated short starring Sonic and Chip, a newly introduced character from Sonic Unleashed. The pair investigate a house haunted by three ghosts. The short has almost no dialogue to speak of and serves mostly as a cute promotion for Sonic Unleashed.
Do you prefer Buff Knuckles or Cowboy Knuckles? Does Sonic's kerchief accentuate or distract from his shoes? After franchise's first foray into CG with Werehog, Sonic Boom is the hedgehog's major leap into CG-animated television. The French co-produced cartoon ran for over 100 episodes and brought in faces both old and new for yet another alternate continuity. This time the cast enjoys a sunny view in Hedgehog Village on an island. Sonic Boom is noted for its sometimes sarcastic tone and meta writing that focuses on an ensemble comedy format. The schemes of Dr. Robotnik take a backseat to jabs about fanfiction, Hollywood reboots, and criticism about character design changes...wait.
Whenever she least expects it, Lynzee's brain will revert to playing Amy's theme song "My Sweet Passion" from Sonic Adventure. Pa-pa-paya paya~
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